Google Launches Machine Learning-Based Tool to Track U.S. Hate Crimes

Machine learning is one of the more competitive technology industries right now. Google and Propublica are partnering up to use this technology as a way to track hate crimes across the United States. It is an interesting concept, especially considering how the documentation of hate crimes in America has been quite problematic for some time now. Whether or not this machine learning-based venture will change matters remains to be seen.

Documenting U.S. Hate Crimes With Machine Learning

Recordkeeping is always a controversial concept where crime is concerned. Various details are often never documented at all, or are documented inaccurately. Coming up with a solution to tackle this problem is not so easy. Now that we live in a digital age, one would expect recordkeeping to become less problematic. Sadly, that is not the case. In fact, it seems this area has devolved into a mixture of proper documentation and patchy work.

When it comes to documenting and tracking hate crimes across the U.S., a lot of work needs to be done. Given recent activity across the country involving potential hate crimes, keeping track of these important moments in history becomes all the more important. Google and Propublica have acknowledged that a solution has to be created, and they want to be the ones to find that solution. The companies plan to jointly use machine learning as a tool to document these crimes. Artificial intelligence  has never been used for this particular purpose, yet it seems rather straightforward to do so.

The Documenting Hate News Index will scour the web for news articles involving hate crime. It will then collect that information and attempt to build a bigger picture. It will only work with a raw feed of Google News articles, which will then be put through the Google Cloud Natural language API to create a visual tool. This information will be updated continuously and in real time.

It will be interesting to see how this tool performs in the coming months and years. Aggregating articles from different sources based on hate crime, bias, or abuse will yield some results very few people expect. It could also point to many of these crimes effectively taking place without most people even being aware of them. The end results from the Documenting Hate News Index will inevitably shock a lot of U.S. citizens and probably make them uncomfortable.

This new platform only dates back to February of this year. That may not seem like the most comprehensive point of reference to start with, but there is only so much information to be aggregated right now. It is possible both companies will expand their range as the project progresses. For now, the focus lies solely on collecting information related to the previous six months. One thing to take into account is how a lot of hate crimes are never reported by the mainstream media in the first place. This tool may be able to find some information on smaller blogs, however, as long as they are indexed by Google News.

It is refreshing to see emerging technologies such as machine learning and AI being used for positive purposes. Rather than worrying about the financial sector or autonomous vehicles, it is due time we started addressing some of the problems prevalent in our society today. Hate crimes are a very big problem, including in the United States. We can only hope Google’s new tool will be helpful for all parties involved, including journalists and researchers.